Ashes November 4, 2006

Warming to the task not always easy for England

England will spend the next three weeks playing warm-up matches

England will spend the next three weeks playing warm-up matches. These ought to be boring — international sportsmen limbering up against lesser mortals in front of small crowds, all part of the phoney war, will be swiftly forgotten when the real thing begins, writes Tim de Lisle in The Times. Somehow it seldom turns out that way. There are just too many possibilities for drama, intrigue and comedy. Here are the seven types of warm-up, as experienced by England teams over the years.

Derek Pringle in The Daily Telegraph says that for England's cricket teams, Australia can be the greatest tour or the worst.

Once you have arrived and been deloused at customs (contamination is a major fear and they scrub your cricket boots and shave the bottom off cricket bats that have picked up dirt), it isn't long before the banter starts. The only trouble is, it never stops. "How do you like our sunshine? How do you like our beer – better than your warm rubbish, isn't it? Where do you keep your savings – under the soap?" (The last is a jibe about our apparent reticence to wash.) And on it goes.

In the Guardian Paul Weaver takes a trip down memory lane to a time when England tour parties sailed through Suez to Bombay and stopped off in Ceylon for a warm-up. Also in The Guardian, Barney Ronay asks whether the new tough Monty is too tough?

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo